Nationwide Drought Could Raise Grocery Prices

Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - 5:13pm

EL PASO TX — The nationwide drought is really hurting farmers and its about to hurt all of us consumers.
The J.R. Produce grocery chain here in El Paso has been around for 20 yrs. The produce buyer says he's seen droughts before and felt the consequences every time.

" 61% of the land mass in the United States is currently being characterized as being impacted by this drought. And our hearts go out to the producers, the farm families who are struggling through something they obviously have no control over, in trying to deal with a very difficult circumstance, said Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

The drought is affecting local farmers, but Vilsack says any rise we see now in food prices, is not correlated with shrinking crop yields across the country.

Local produce buyer Jose Gonzalez says he hasn't seen any hike in prices just yet but he knows its coming.

"The price of corn is going up, according to what I'm seeing and what I've read the northeast has really been affected by the drought and they're a major supplier of the corn so maybe coming up and prices are going up," said Gonzalez

Of course the drought conditions will affect the farmers who harvest the crops, but ultimately it'll affect the consumer who will have to pay for them in the grocery stores. The higher prices will affect people's grocery lists and bank accounts.

" People are still gonna buy necessities. They're gonna buy their tomatoes, they're gonna buy their eggs, they're gonna buy their milk, their tortillas, their basic things. They won't buy as much because of the price," said Gonzalez.

Some people said it will change their spending habits.

" It's actually pretty bad, because I mean the economy is bad right now so it's either I buy food or I put gas, u have to choose between one or the other," said El Pasoan Elizabeth Lopez.

Another grocery shopper said he felt helpless.

" There's pretty much nothing we can do about it, at this point because I mean it's the drought, so I mean once it comes to that it's gonna start hurting our pockets,” said Octavio Amaro.

Secretary Vilsack says we will probably see those higher prices later this year and the first part of next year. Processed foods obviously impacted by crop yields, will likely go up in price next year as well.

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